Tuesday 25 April 2017

Stander facing day of reckoning as Murray targets series victory for buoyant Ireland

Stander visited his former U-20 team-mate in the stadium medical room and also spoke to him at Cape Town airport yesterday. Photo: Brendan Moran/Sportsfile
Stander visited his former U-20 team-mate in the stadium medical room and also spoke to him at Cape Town airport yesterday. Photo: Brendan Moran/Sportsfile
Ruaidhri O'Connor

Ruaidhri O'Connor

Ireland will learn whether they will have CJ Stander available for their remaining games in South Africa this morning as the Munster captain's hearing resumes in Johannesburg.

Disciplinary officer Terry Willis did not reach a decision on whether to suspend the flanker for his red card in Saturday's first Test at Newlands after a five-hour hearing yesterday.

Stander (right) was dismissed by French official Mathieu Raynal after making contact with the head of Springbok out-half Pat Lambie, but Ireland managed to secure a historic first victory over South Africa away despite playing with 14 men for 58 minutes thanks to tries from Conor Murray and Jared Payne as well as 16 points from the boot of Paddy Jackson.

Joe Schmidt expressed his hope that there would be no further sanction for his blindside flanker, describing his dismissal as "very, very harsh".

Lambie will miss the second Test at Ellis Park as a result of his injuries, but X-rays on his neck came up clear.

Stander (right) visited his former U-20 team-mate in the stadium medical room and also spoke to him at Cape Town airport yesterday as the two squads made their way to Johannesburg to begin preparations for the second Test.

Centre Luke Marshall said his team-mate was shocked by the decision to send him off on his first outing against the country of his birth.

"He's pretty surprised and bemused with the call, we've seen the replay and I'm not sure how he could have pulled out of it," he said. "But there you go, that's the interpretation."

Ireland have no fresh injuries as they look to follow in the footsteps of the Lions, New Zealand and France by winning a Test series in South Africa.

"People are probably talking about the players we're missing, but there's a lot of youth in this team, a lot of people who haven't been exposed to this Test rugby that we believe were good enough and they stood up today," scrum-half Murray said.

"It's a great win, we'll enjoy it and there's obviously a chance to win a Test series now as well which is massive. We've got the historic win, now with this group we always want to push on and want more."

Meanwhile, the IRFU will be on alert over Schmidt's future after he was approached by Super Rugby champions the Highlanders about becoming their head coach in 2018.

The New Zealander is out of contract at the end of next season and is contemplating whether to stay on until the 2019 World Cup or return home. He has pledged to inform the union of his intentions at the end of the tour of South Africa.

"I've gone round and deliberately contacted coaches like Schmidt overseas and talked to all of them to see what their thinking is around coming back to New Zealand and also coaching the Highlanders," the franchise's chief executive Roger Clark said.

"They're all looking at the opportunities looking towards 2019. Even though (Steve Hansen) hasn't committed (to remaining in charge of the All Blacks) yet, they know that's going to be the case."

Irish Independent

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